Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision


Graduate student supervision requires complex interaction between graduate students and the graduate supervisor. Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA), in collaboration with the Graduate Student Association (GSA), established this award to recognize exemplary faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in graduate student supervision, through being a mentor, advisor, role model, humanist and a strategist who exemplifies a high level of energy and ingenuity. Normally, three faculty members will be recognized annually.


Recipients of this prestigious award receive $1,000 (taxable)

Eligibility and selection criteria

  • at the time of being nominated, nominee must be a faculty member who is either tenured, on a tenure-track, or retired;
  • nominee must have had a career in academia as a faculty member for at least 10 years;
  • nominee must not have previously won the award within the last 10 years (they may be re-nominated after this time);
  • preference will be given to those who have been faculty member at the University of Waterloo for a minimum of five years;
  • nominees should have an outstanding supervisory record by exemplifying several of the following qualities as a supervisor:
    • Supervisor as an advisor:
      • effective guidance and planning of graduate research for his/her students;
      • established mechanism for ongoing interaction with graduate students;
      • timely reading and provision of feedback on students' work;
      • maintaining his/her role as an advisor while instilling independence among his/her students;
      • fostering and facilitating students' skills for problem solving, critical thinking, self-directed learning and effective communicating;
      • promoting dissemination and presentation of student's research result
    • Supervisor as a humanist/mentor:
      • commitment to students’ welfare;
      • provision of caring atmosphere to the students;
      • willingness to provide guidance which may not be related to academic matters;
      • providing guidance related to student career goals

Nomination process

Nominations are initiated by a current or former graduate student (known as “nominator”) who is/was directly supervised by the nominee (faculty member). The nominator solicits support from other past and present graduate students of the nominee who have had the opportunity to receive guidance or informal mentoring from them. The nominator must also receive support from senior academic colleagues (e.g., Chair or Associate Chair/Graduate Officer of the Department, Faculty Dean, Faculty Associate Dean).

Nominators can choose to either notify the nominee that they are being nominated, or nominate them privately. In either case, nomination package materials, including the list of letter writers, must remain confidential and not be shared with the nominee under any circumstances.

Nominators must put together a nomination package and submit it to the Department Graduate Co-ordinator of the nominee's home department. Unsuccessful nominations will be kept in the department or Faculty for one year and can be re-nominated the following year. To re-nominate the following year, nominators must check with the department or Faculty as appropriate in order to access the package that was submitted (new letters may be added or can replace existing ones).

Nomination package components:

By November 12 (or the preceding Friday if the deadline falls on a weekend), the following items must be submitted to the Department Graduate Co-ordinator of the nominee's home department:

  1. A completed nomination form;
  2. Section title page: "CV" [use Section title page templates]
  3. Nominee’s current CV
    • CV can be obtained by:
      • checking the nominee’s web page [if applicable];
      • contacting the Department Graduate Co-ordinator of the nominee’s home department;
      • asking the nominee for it if they are aware they are being nominated for this award
  4. Section title page: "Letter(s) from supporting senior colleagues" [use Section title page templates]
  5. Supporting letter(s) from one or more senior academic colleagues
    • Examples of senior colleagues includes Department Chair or Associate Chair/Graduate Officer, Faculty Dean, Faculty Associate Dean, faculty members who serve on advisory committees with the nominee; in other words, someone who has had the capacity to observe the competencies of the nominee and can provide support and validate the nominee’s working relationship, supervisory style and commitment to their students.
    • Supporting letters should describe the outstanding supervisory record of the nominee as per the selection criteria.
    • Letters must be signed
  6. Section title page: "Details of current and previously supervised students" [use Section title page templates]
    • Using the table headers below, include a list of currently and previously supervised students:
      Full name Graduate student level
      Time frame supervised by nominee
      (e.g. 2017-present or 2018-2022)
      Current position
      (professional job title, "current student" or "unknown")
      • The table above should be separated by Master’s, Doctoral and Postdoctoral students (students who were supervised during multiple degrees may be listed multiple times);
      • A list of previously supervised students can be obtained by:
        • checking the nominee’s web page [if applicable];
        • contacting the Department Graduate Co-ordinator of the nominee’s home department;
        • asking the nominee for it, but only if they are aware they are being nominated for this award
  7. Section title page: "Letters from current and/or past students" [use Section title page templates]
  8. Supporting letters from a minimum of five current and/or prior graduate students
    • Supporting letters should describe the outstanding supervisory record of the nominee as per the selection criteria.
    • The nominator is permitted to write a letter and include it in the package
    • Letters from current undergraduate students are not accepted;
    • Letters from current/previous postdoctoral fellows are not permitted unless the nominated faculty member was also their PhD supervisor;
    • Letters must be signed

There is no maximum number of supporting letters from senior academic colleagues and students. But nominators must ensure that they meet the minimum number of letters required for senior academic colleagues and students, as indicated above. 

After collecting all letters, the nominator must select 10 to serve as the top 10 (from senior academic colleagues and/or students). These letters must be identified on the nomination form - all other letters must still be included in the nomination package. Identification of these top 10 letters will assist the Institutional Selection Committee when performing their review. 

The majority of the letters in the submitted package must be from the University of Waterloo, not other institutions.

Important dates

*When the advertised deadline below falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline date is the preceding Friday. 



November 12*

Deadline for nominator to submit nomination package to Department Graduate Co-ordinator of the nominee's home department

November 12*- [Faculty-set deadline]

Department Action:

  • Department collects all submitted nomination packages and conducts a review and ranking
  • Department prepares one cover letter from the Department Chair (or senior level designate) for the packages being submitted to the Faculty. The cover letter should highlight key points in the supporting letters and a ranking if there is more than one nomination going forward from the department
  • Department submits packages to Faculty by Faculty-set deadline
  • Department communicates with nominators to advise if their nomination package is being sent forward to the Faculty or not

[Faculty-set deadline] – December 11*

Faculty action:

  • Faculty collects all nomination packages submitted by Departments and conducts a review and ranking
  • Faculty prepares a cover letter indicating their rankings and uploads it along with nomination packages (up to Faculty nomination maximum) to GSPA by December 11*
    • Note: the Department cover letter should not be included in the submission to GSPA
  • Faculty communicates with departments to let them know the status of their nomination packages

December 11* –

Institutional selection committee to make final selections; GSPA to communicate results:

  • GSPA will notify nominators of results (for nominations sent forward by Faculties)
  • GSPA will notify winners and will include a formal letter of congratulations;
  • Results will be published via standard university communication channels (i.e. Daily Bulletin, Department and/or Faculty websites)

Faculty nomination maximums

Each faculty may submit up to the following number of nominations to GSPA:


Maximum #

Health, Environment

Up to 2*

Arts, Engineering, Mathematics, Science

Up to 3*

*Under exceptional circumstances one additional nomination will be considered.

Institutional selection committee

All nominations will be reviewed by an institutional selection committee comprised of the following members:

  • Associate Vice-President Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs or designate
  • Advisory Committee on Scholarships & Awards (comprised of faculty members from each Faculty)
  • GSA President or designate 
  • One faculty member nominated by the UW Faculty Association

Helpful resources and forms

Questions regarding this award can be directed to the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid & Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Last updated: August 18, 2022